Petitioners ask SC to declare SIM Card Registration Act unconstitutional
MANILA, Philippines — Petitioners asked the Supreme Court on Monday to declare Republic Act 11934, or the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, as unconstitutional.
Petitioners from various sectors, assisted by the Leflegis Legal Services and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, also urged the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction against the implementation of the law.
The petitioners also asked the SC to order the respondents, led by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the National Privacy Commission, to “cease and desist from using, storing, transferring, and processing all information gathered into the SIM Register and to destroy data already gathered.”
Under the SIM Registration Act, all current SIM card owners must submit a completed form through the websites offered by telecommunications companies, otherwise, the SIM will be deactivated. The deadline is on April 26.
The purpose of the law is to deter illegal acts using SMS technology and help law enforcers in tracking purported criminals.
Petitioners told SC that the mandatory SIM registration restricts their constitutional right to freedom of speech and their right against unreasonable searches and seizures as well as the right to substantive due process.
The SIM Card Registration Act “conditions the exercise of speech through the use of SIM cards to a mandatory disclosure of a specific combination of information that is supposed to tie every SIM card to a specific person.”
“The regulation it imposes is content-based not because of the content it impedes [which is everything that passes through a SIM card] but because of the content it compels [the disclosure of one’s identity],” read the petition.
Petitioners said the law “tramples upon zones of privacy and sweeps away all protections guaranteed by the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
They said non-registration, which would lead to deactivating the SIM card, is like choosing between freedom of speech and the right to privacy.
Petitioners are the following: the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP), journalist Ronalyn V. Olea, Lumad leader, and former Bayan Muna Partylist representative Eufemia C. Cullamat, Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr., mother of two tokhang victims Llorre Benidicto Pasco, transgender man Dean Matthias Razi Timtiman Alea, information technology professional Maded Batara III of Junk SIM Registration Network, fisherfolk leader Alberto Roldan of Pamalakaya, peasant leader Danilo Hernandez Ramos of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and lawyer Michael Christopher de Castro.
Named as respondents are the NTC, Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Privacy Commission, the Departments of Trade and Industry, and the Interior and Local Government, and of Education.
Public Telecommunication Entities were also tagged as private respondents.